Beach Sweeper president Finny Chub shows off some of the trash he collected by himself on a recent beach cleanup. Poor cleanup turnout has prompted Beach Sweepers to change the rules regarding the post-cleanup picnics. (photo courtesy of Mike Baird)
Blacktip Island’s Beach Sweepers, a volunteer beach cleanup group, has tightened attendance rules for its post-cleanup celebratory barbecue this Saturday at Spider Bight beach, a move that angered many local residents.
“You don’t get food or a beer unless you actually pick up trash off the beach,” cleanup organizer Finny Chub said. “Last month it was just me out in the baking sun for three hours. Then when it was time for the cookout, 50 people showed up. We’re calling BS on that.
“I had a whole pig roasted and three coolers of beer, and folks hit that like a swarm of locusts,” Chub said. “It was all gone before I could have any of it. From now on you’ll have to hand in a full trash bag to get a food voucher. No voucher, no BBQ for you.”
Some in the community backed Chub.
“It’s harsh, but something had to be done,” Beach Sweeper member Christina Mojarra said. “The trash collection has to be substantive, too. No, “here’s my cigarette butt,” like Dermott Bottoms tried last time.
“It’s pretty simple, really,” Mojarra said. “You want a burger? Pick up a burger wrapper. You want a beer? Pick up a bottle or two.”
Most, however, opposed the new rule
“Cleanups are a community event, a community celebration,” Antonio Fletcher said. “That’s when people come together. Finny’s creating division where there wasn’t any. Where there shouldn’t be any.”
“Now, some of us might not be out in the noonday sun physically collecting garbage, but we’re there in spirit,” Fletcher said. “That community spirit is what we’re celebrating. Or were.”
Others objected on cultural grounds.
“They called me a freeloader, and they’re damned right,” Dermott Bottoms said. “Freeloading’s a Blacktip tradition. We’re celebrating our heritage, you know. Honing our foraging skills.
“There’s givers and takers in this world,” Bottoms said. “Blacktip has a long history of taking. We’re proud of that. Mess with that, you mess up the balance that makes the island tick. Finny’s gonna have hell to pay.”
Island authorities have warned residents to keep their disagreements civil.
“There’s been two instances where household waste was dumped on the beach upwind of Mr. Chub’s house,” Island Police Constable Rafe Marquette said. “Anyone caught purposely littering is going to be doing some forced beach cleanup. A lot of forced beach cleanup. With no cookout afterwards.”